Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Turkey demands (and gets) another 3 billion Euros from the EU

EU will expel refugees to Turkey, re-admit them from there, under ‘game-changing’ plan





RT,
6 March, 2016

Turkey has offered to take back unregistered migrants from Greece while sending the same number of genuine Syrian refugees to the EU. In return, Ankara wants double the promised EU funding, visa-free travel, and faster progress towards EU membership.

We want to prevent waves of refugees, and tragic events in the Aegean Sea,” said prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, following a summit with 28 EU heads of states in Brussels, which had to be extended into the early evening. Hours earlier, 25 migrants drowned off the Turkish coast, en-route to Greece. “With these new proposals, we aim to rescue refugees, discourage those who misuse and exploit their situation, and find a new era in Turkey-EU relations.”

European Union leaders take part in a group photo during a EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, as the bloc is looking to Ankara to help it curb the influx of refugees and migrants flowing into Europe, March 7, 2016. © Yves Herman
European Union leaders take part in a group photo during a EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, as the blo is looking to Ankara to help it curb the influx of refugees and migrants flowing into Europe, March 7, 2016. © Yves Herman / Reuter
On Monday morning, the Turkish politician promised “game-changing ideas” as he headed into the meeting with European leaders keen to close the Balkan route used by more than 800,000 migrants to enter the continent last year.

The joint draft produced by the end of the session lived up to his pledge.
According to document, published by Reuters, “for every Syrian readmitted by Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU member states.”

Last week, Turkey promised to take back failed asylum seekers from Europe if they had passed through its territory, but the new initiative presents a considerable logistical challenge. A strengthened EU force would have to scour the Greek islands and deport refugees – despite the objections of human rights organizations – while another in Turkey would have to process claims before sending them on to Europe.


NATO’s fleet will provide the muscle for the operation.

NATO is starting activities in [Greek and Turkish] territorial waters today. We are expanding our cooperation with the EU’s border agency Frontex, and we are expanding the number of ships in our deployment,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, as he stood next to Davutoglu at the final press conference. France and Britain have pledged new vessels for the fleet.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) shakes hands with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 7, 2016. © Francois Lenoir
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) shakes hands with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 7, 2016. © Francois Lenoir / Reuters

The EU said it would offer Turkey €3 billion between now and 2018, in addition to the €3 billion it had already promised to implement the scheme last year. It would also offer Turkish citizens visa-free travel through the Schengen area, starting from June, as opposed to tentatively reviewing the possibility in October.


Turkey are offering more and demanding more,” said one senior diplomat to Reuters, as European officials publicly insisted that the issues of migrants and EU integration remain separate.

After presenting the interim proposal – which will be subject to political and likely, legal challenges – the politicians returned to the negotiating table for another round of talks, which are scheduled to wrap up on Monday night.

Press freedom criticism


EU politicians took time out on Monday to criticize tightening censorship in Turkey, following the takeover of the country’s largest opposition newspaper Zaman. The newspaper had been accused of links with President Tayyip Recep Erdogan’s arch-enemy Fethullah Gulen, though Turkish officials said the case was “not politically-motivated.”

Freedom of the press is “a non-negotiable element of our European identity” said European Parliament President Martin Schulz, in reference to Turkey ambition to achieve closer integration with the EU.

France and Germany also expressed “concern” at the development.

Turkey’s Zaman to publish opposition newspaper in Germany

A woman holds her hand against her bleeding face in front of the headquarters of Zaman newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey. (Zaman Almanya)
A woman holds her hand against her bleeding face in front of the headquarters of Zaman newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey. (Zaman Almanya

7 March, 2016

Top selling Turkish newspaper, Zaman, will continue its opposition activities in Germany after being taken over by the government in its home country, says Zaman Almanya's editor-in-chief.     
As of today we are printing a version of Zaman that has nothing to do with Zaman there (in Turkey) because it has been forcibly taken over by the state," said Zaman Almanya (Zaman Germany)editor-in-chief Sueleyman Bag in an interview with Reuters on Monday.

Monday's edition of the Germany-based daily featured a black front page topped with “The constitution is abolished” as a headline. It has around 14,000 subscribers in Germany which is home to three million Turks.
The opposition newspaper’s website on Monday sported the picture of a woman holding her hand against her bleeding face in front of the newspaper's main offices in Istanbul, which were stormed by Turkish authorities on Friday to enforce a court ruling to place it and its subsidiary outlets under the management of trustees.
Riot police cut off the gate to enter the headquarters of Zaman newspaper in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 5, 2016. (Reuters)

"We will print an independent newspaper. We still have not addressed the question of how we do that. This is a new challenge for us," added Bag.
The paper’s takeover triggered massive nationwide protests, which police violently quashed with water cannons and teargas.
Zaman, a longtime critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warned of the "darkest days" in the history of the Turkish press in its last edition before its takeover. The following edition, however, featured a picture of Erdogan holding the hand of an elderly woman on the front page.
Large numbers of rights groups and EU officials have slammed the seizure, saying it greatly infringes on press freedom. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and French President Francois Hollande are among the takeover critics


Turkey uses refugees to blackmail EU into compliance – ex-MI6 agent


26 February, 2016

A ceasefire deal has been brokered between the US and Russia – a product of long and painful negotiations, but the prospect of lasting peace is still slim. With the rebel forces having no unity, and Turkey keen on attacking the Kurdish fighters in Northern Syria, many warn that the truce will crumble shortly. Will sober heads prevail, or will the bloodshed in Syria just open another chapter? We ask former a MI6 agent and EU foreign policy adviser. Alastair Crooke is on Sophie&Co today.



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